Tuesday, 11 December 2018


With everything going on at such a frantic pace, we’ve been more than a little remiss in trying to report on current affairs. Notwithstanding developments in the Special Counsel investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia and further potential for Kompromat, by this day were it not for the intercession of the death of an ex-president and state funeral, the US government would have been at least partially shutdown, having essentially defunded itself with no provision for continuing operations. Instead that fiscal showdown was deferred until the week before Christmas and the Winter Recess—ostensibly when a deal might be reached by dint of representatives wanting to return to their constituencies for the holidays.

Also by today, there was to be a “meaningful” vote in the House of Commons on the EU divorce deal that the prime minister had negotiated to the satisfaction of no one. The prime minister, however, chose to postpone debate and dashed off to the continent in search of more concrete reassurance to telegraph to her party and coalition that there would be an open border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. In response to this perceived dereliction of duty—leaving legislators even less time to negotiate the tranche of new laws and regulations that have to be in place when the UK leaves—a member with Labour cam forward and grabbed the chamber’s ceremonial mace in objection. Kept in the Tower of London, the maces (the House of Lords has two) the mace represents the monarch’s authority as the “third part of Parliament” who assents to the constitution and signs bills into law (the Queen, not the Mace) and is placed in a tripod in front of the Speaker of House by the Serjeant-at-Arms while in session—the Parliament legally not allowed to convene in its absence. While I understand the sentiment and frustration, it does strike one as a rather typically Brexit-shambles thing to do: seizing a symbol of power and not knowing quite what to do with it afterwards.  The US House of Representatives also has a mace, displayed on a green marble pedestal to the right of the Speaker—to be used, brandished in front of offenders, in accordance with House Rules, to restore order when Congress becomes unruly.It is rarely implemented.